Eric Kunnen\’s GRCC Blog


Students and THEIR Use of Technology
September 28, 2007, 4:40 pm
Filed under: Articles

Gary Ebels, a Professor here at GRCC sent me a link to an article on Inside Higher Ed which I then tagged on Blackboard Scholar. The article is entitled: “Students’ ‘Evolving’ Use of Technology“. Anyway, it was an excellent read so thanks Gary!

The article highlighted some work from the Educause Center for Applied Research which conducted a survey of 27,864 students at 103 two- and four-year colleges and universities. I pulled some interesting information from the article and I’d like to highlight them here in this blog post. In fact, the article talks about how even though students have laptops, they often don’t take them to class, which is exactly what I found and posted in a quick poll that I ran on our Blackboard Community System. I blogged about that here.

According to the ECAR:

  1. 60.9% of students believe using technology improves their learning.
  2. 73.7% have a laptop with 98.4% owning a computer of some kind.
  3. Over half of laptop owners don’t bring them to class at all.
  4. 80.3% of students are using Facebook and other social networking sites
  5. Approximately 46.1% are accessing streaming video and course management software like our Blackboard system here at GRCC.

The article also goes on to mention that there are many different communication technologies, each with seemingly different purposes from the students’ view. Is seems that students use email, web sites, message boards, and Blackboard for course related communications. And seem to favor chat, instant messaging, Facebook and text messages for peers.

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Student using blackboard at GRCC

Here a GRCC we offer Blackboard for student and instructor communication, but we also offer student instant messaging via Pronto, which is integrated nicely into Blackboard. In addition, we are also doing more and more with text messaging. Currently we use clearTXT to send emergency alerts and notices to students who have signed up with the program which is also nicely integrated into our Blackboard environment.

Not surprisingly, many students are using technology for research according to the article. Sites like Google and Wikipedia among other electronic resources including the library are cited as being used by more than 70% of the respondents in the survey.

I like how the article poses the question: “How can educators adapt their teaching methods to emerging technologies? And should they?” I often wonder, what is the intersection between the new technologies that are available, student expectations for technology’s use, faculty ability to quickly learn about and leverage new technologies in their teaching, and the institution’s ability to respond with resources.

What are your thoughts about this article?



Student Laptop Poll – Are Students Allowed to Use them in the Classroom?
September 28, 2007, 4:03 pm
Filed under: Work Activities

After creating the Cook Hall Student Poll, I wondered about the use of laptops by our students. Quite often, throughout my travels around campus I have noticed an increasing number of students studying, accessing Blackboard, looking up friends on Facebook, etc. on their own laptops.

I’ve also heard faculty talking about students that have been taking their laptops with them to classes.

I wondered. How many students actually have a laptop. So I set up the following poll on our Blackboard Community System Portal. Here are the results:

Question: Do you have a laptop? Do you use it in the classroom?

  • No, I don’t have a laptop = 466 / 38.17%
  • Yes, I have a PC laptop but do not use it in the classroom = 386 / 31.61%
  • Yes, I have a PC laptop and use it in the classroom = 244 / 19.98%
  • Yes, I have an Apple laptop and use it in the classroom = 63 / 5.16%
  • Yes, I have an Apple laptop but I do not use it in the classroom = 62 / 5.08%

While not scientific, this means that out of approximately 1200 students, more than 62% have personal laptops. Interestingly roughly 36% of the students indicated that they HAVE a laptop BUT don’t use the laptop in the classroom. I wonder why that is? Do our faculty tell them that they can’t use their laptop for class? Is that perhaps a detriment to their learning?

What are your thoughts? Post your comments below.



Cook Hall – New Learning Space Student Survey
September 28, 2007, 3:55 pm
Filed under: Work Activities

Garry Brand has been blogging about his experiences with the brand NEW learning environment here at GRCC. The first floor of the Cook Hall building was totally remodeled from the ground up, and has some very innovative spaces.

This prompted me to place a survey on our Blackboard Community Portal System to see what students think about the new space. Here are the results from 1527 student responses:

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I’m happy to see that students are using all of the unique areas that have been designed for them. Especially the hallway spaces, which actually have dedicated “zones” to study, and meet informally with other students.



New Blackboard Scholar Features
September 26, 2007, 2:41 pm
Filed under: Articles

This just in…

There are some really cool features that were just added to the Blackboard Scholar social bookmarking service! I think what I like most about this announcement is that it points to a more social NETWORKING direction of this tool. Which I am really happy to see, since learning is social, and being able to easily connect to others in a visual way will help bring more online community.

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Here are the highlights from a recent email I received:

Dear Scholars,

Store, share, and become Friends!

We have just released new features and functionality in Scholar ®, that improve the academic resource sharing, as well as allow users to build relationships and network, right from within Scholar.

New features and functionality includes:

  • Create your Network – Build relationships with other Scholars and create your Network of Friends, Favorites and Fans.
  • Expand your Profile – Provide more information about yourself, including Contact Information, Interests, Education and Work History.
  • Upload your picture – Upload a picture of yourself to represent you and your profile throughout Scholar.
  • Find other people with similar interests – Tag your profile with “Interests” and find people with similar interests.
  • Update your status – Keep your Network up-to-date on what’s going on with you. Every time you update your status message, your network will get notified.
  • Customize your new homepage – Your new Scholar Home gives you a window into all of your Scholar features including your streams, Tag Cloud, Profile, Network and Notifications.
  • Search better – Try the new user search feature to find other Scholars or filter bookmark searches by your Network.
  • Invite people to join Scholar – Invite people to join Scholar to start sharing their resources and building relationships.


miBUG looks to be a great Bb event!
September 25, 2007, 8:37 pm
Filed under: Articles, Conferences

It looks like the next miBUG (Michigan Blackboard Users Group) Conference is going to be a good one! I just received an email from our Michigan Sales Regional Sales Manager, Pat Bevilaqua.

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The miBUG Conference this year will be hosted by Central Michigan University on Friday, October 19. It will be held on the campus of CMU in Mt. Pleasant. I’m very excited to see that Karen Gage, Vice President of Product Strategy will be there. It’s always interesting to see what is coming and where Bb is heading with their product.

Register for the event and discover more information here: http://www.mibug.org



Faculty 2.0
September 19, 2007, 12:01 am
Filed under: Articles

I just read another great article in the Educause Review. It’s simply entitled “Faculty 2.0“.

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What caught my eye is this opening statement: “Much has been written recently about the Net Generation-the generation that makes up the majority of students attending U.S. colleges and universities-but relatively little attention has been given to the college and university faculty who teach them.

In this article there are several elements and comparisons of how the role of the professor is changing and the suggestion that often the change is related to the focus of the faculty member’s teaching philosophy. The most cited example is that of teaching becoming less teacher-centered and more learner-centered. The article has an excellent table that highlights and compares these two approaches (See Table 1).

I do wonder if faculty feel comfortable with the notion that they may be considered novices rather than experts, as the article suggests that “Most faculty members are experts in their respective disciplines, and as teachers, they expect to be regarded as such. Confronting new and unfamiliar technologies can quickly turn them into novices, and with technically savvy Net Generation students in their classes, the may find that their students know much more about specific technologies than they do, creating a balance-of-power shift…”

I also think that it is important to look at our own communication styles and paradigms. Many Net Gen students communicate with instant messaging and mobile text messaging, whereas, some faculty may only really “understand” email as a method of communication. I think it’s helpful to meet students where they are. Which is a phrase that Garry Brand often uses here at GRCC.

Informal learning outside-of-the-classroom often requires a new level of understanding by some faculty. There is a vast array of online discipline related information which creates a possible conflict with perhaps a view by some that all course content is delivered only during the class period, or perhaps a paper textbook. Whereas, there are many opportunities for courseware such as online course materials, web sites, and reference materials in secure online databases to be distributed OUTSIDE of the classroom, for example, through external links inside of a course management system like Blackboard. Or even shared among users in social bookmarking sites such as Blackboard Scholar.

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Blackboard Scholar Screenshot

Time shifting is another point that is mentioned by the article. Such that traditional office hours and class time is being spread over a larger time period with the use of course management systems like Blackboard, email, and instant messaging. This can be a struggle for faculty that are not used to electronic communication coupled with the expectations that students assume that everything is online.

While we are all in this technological revolution together (from the innovators, to early adopters, to the early majority, to the laggards), I think Steve Ehrman says it best, as quoted in the article: “Academic programs could do much better if they helped their faculty become the best at a) finding and adapting best practice from peers who teach similar courses, and b) sharing their own best practices with the world.” I might also mention that faculty could share across disciplines as well. In fact, this reminds me of a special session that we organized through the Learning Academy last year. It was called the Teaching, Learning, and Technology Showcase. This event’s purpose is to begin to do just that, highlight and reward faculty that are doing excellent work while also creating conversations and sharing around the possibilities that technology can bring to teaching and learning.



Google Presentations – Now Available!
September 18, 2007, 11:43 pm
Filed under: Articles

Despite the silence on Google’s Official Blog as to it being released today, Google Presentations is now available! I came across this blog post on Zdnet Education that indicated that as of Sept 17, you can access the tool using docs.google.com. Simply login to your Google Docs and select New | Presentation.

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I agree with comments made already that this isn’t likely to replace Powerpoint and it’s use, however I very much like the sharing and collaboration tools that are built-in to the application. This seems to be a good way for students to collaborate on a group project, or perhaps faculty to work together on a conference, research, or lecture presentation. It will be interesting to see how Google Apps play out in their power and offline flexibility since web access is not quite ubiquitous.

Not that Google is the only player in this area. For example, it appears that SlideRocket has some very cool layouts but it is currently in beta with invitation only.  ZohoShow is another, some may say, competitor to the Google Apps Suite.